Don't forget to kill Philip!

By Joshie on June 5th, 2009 under Mac, PC, Tower Defense,

Crazy DaveIn the current gaming climate I feel that PopCap Games isn't being given the recognition they deserve. Sure, they invented Bejeweled and Zuma, two sins of the multiverse they should never be forgiven for, but they also brought Peggle into the world, and had the shrewd business sense to release the phenomenon on every single platform under the sun. I admit they whore their newborn child out like a McDonalds happy meal, but itís the sort of prostitution I can really get behind.

Peggle could have been considered a one hit wonder from a company whose other big titles include ďBookwormĒ and ďBig MoneyĒ, however the recent release of Plants vs. Zombies has changed all that, cementing PopCap in my mind alongside other great game developers. When you first hear about PvZ the idea of yet another tower defense game doesnít sound immediately appealing, especially when you consider the plethora of perfectly good flash games available for free. Where PvZ immediately grabs you is with its delightful style and charisma and from the moment crazy Dave comes on screen he will have you locked into such an addictive game that you wont realize that hours have just passed you by. The rules of battle are simple; the zombie horde is creeping across your front garden in desperate need of your brains and the only way you can protect yourself is to lay down plants that will protect you to the death.

The sheer amount of plant variations in this game are incredible, forcing you to think long and hard about which ones you take with you into battle. From the plants that shoot peas at the ever advancing horde, to the spuds that block their path until the zombies devour them, to the exploding cherry bombs and the seaweed that drag their prey underwater, the fight to save your precious brain cells is won or lost on the way you play the field.

Plants vs. ZombiesYour opposition is equally as diverse, including your run of the mill zombies, grandpa zombies that get angry when you destroy their newspaper, pole-vaulting zombies who jump your defenses and the dreaded zomboni, who tries to mow down your plants with an apocalyptic ice machine. With a whole host of level variations and some great mini-games that include zombie bowling with spuds, PvZ is simply worth ever penny PopCap is asking for.

Plants vs. Zombies is available for both Mac and PC, and has a sixty-minute demo that is free to download. Check it out and let me know what you think!



By Brian on June 5th, 2009 under CBC,

A friendly reminder to anyone interested in entering Character Battle 10: Metal Gear--


At over 2 weeks since signups began, just 4 people have entered. What'cha all waiting for? It's free to enter, and you can potentially win $50 or a free game!

For all contest info, including where to enter, go here: CB10: Metal Gear

Deadline for entries is midnight ET, Friday, June 12.

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Just over 2 weeks left to enter Metal Gear!

By Brian on May 28th, 2009 under CBC,

One full week of signups have gone by, and so far...only TWO have entered Metal Gear. Just as a heads-up: if too few people enter, I will NOT do the contest. It's too much work to do these for a small amount of people.

So what are you waiting for? It's FREE to enter, and free to play. Why would you wanna pass up a chance at $50 or a video game of your choice? Check out the Metal Gear Contest Page today and find out how to enter, and everything else you want to know about the 10th Character Battle Contest. SIGNUPS END JUNE 12.

In other news, because some of you are curious, below you can see the Overall Leaderboard--the All-Time standings, where everyone who has ever competed in the past 9 contests are listed in order of total points they've racked up. The total list is too big to post here, so I'll show you the top 20 of all time, and give you the link to check out the entire massive rank. The top 20:


Click here to see the whole damn leaderboard.

Don't wait until the last second to enter, PLEASE. (Although I know it will happen. Always does.)

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When is it time to call it a series?

By Brian on May 27th, 2009 under General,

I'm reminded of this particular question in recent days, having seen and/or played to completion two games for PS3: Metal Gear Solid 4 and Resident Evil 5; the latest installments in their respective series. Both of these series have been long established in the timeline of console games--Metal Gear began over twenty years ago, while Resident Evil got its start in the early days of the first PlayStation, back in 1996. Capcom and Konami have done, by and large, an amazing job with each new installment of these games, and have successfully done what can be a very hard feat in the gaming world: continue along the same story over many games, and in these cases, also over many years. Certainly with the advent of new consoles and new technologies, each successive game aspires to be better than the previous title. And almost certainly, if you've been a fan of a continuous series--ANY continuous series-- since game one, it can be difficult when it finally comes time to end the series.

I feel that, as a fan of a long series like Metal Gear or Resident Evil, once the questions and plot holes raised in the earliest games finally get resolved--once, really, all (or nearly all) the major questions and plot holes come to resolution--the series should end--no more games should be made for the series. I'm sure I'm not the only fan who thinks this--I mean, while it's nice to have more games and keep the story going, there comes a point where it becomes overkill, or the series goes in a direction that's so above and beyond what's been established that you lose fans--Dino Crisis and Mortal Kombat are a couple that spring to mind, examples of series that went to overkill. Final Fantasy, despite spitting out a new game every so often, re-invents itself with each numbered game. Every single game in the numerical series (save for FFX and X-2) are unrelated. Each game has its own unique plot; otherwise, I'm sure I'd be sick of the series by now. By inventing a new story with each game, I continue playing the series.

gameoverMost who know me as a gamer know that I value the plot of a game over any other facet. Game play, music, mechanics, graphics are all important, I admit, but for meÖhow good of a story does the adventure provide? Does it grip me? Move me emotionally? Does it leave me with an urge to not put the controller down? Or does it make me want to toss the game five minutes into it, like Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass? I can put up with horrible game play and horrible controls if the story's good--I'm looking right at you, Xenosaga Episode II--but, if the story sucks, all bets are off. And this is why I'm hoping that Resident Evil and Metal Gear end right here. In the latest installment of Resident Evil and MGS, the story as we know it comes to its end. Everything finally comes to its resolution in a coherent and well-presented way. The endings left me quite satisfied, with hardly anything lingering. The stories were amazing. And this is why I hope that no more games are made with these plotlines--where else can they possibly go? Everything's resolved.

Unfortunately, we know the reality of the situation. Series and franchises like these are cash cows for their respective developers, and they will be milked for every penny they can get. Final Fantasy VII, for starters, keeps getting wrung. I just hope that future games don't destroy the great stories that have kept us playing over the years and across consoles. But we'll see.


Everybody's dead, Dave.

By Joshie on May 24th, 2009 under RPG, X360, PS3,

Should not have oversleptA little known fact about me is that I donít complete many games. In fact, I can buy multiple copies of the same game and still not see those pearly white credits roll on by. Itís not that I couldnít fathom how to open the boxes shrink-wrap and itís certainly not for a lack of trying. The problem, as I see it, boils down to a fundamental issue of money vs. attention span. Back in the good old days I didnít have a lot of this currency thing, so I replayed games. A lot. Hell, Iíve beaten Tombi for the PlayStation at least seven times and I donít even consider that a particularly great game. Although now that I look back at it, its depiction of evil magic pigs trying to take over the world has an eerie sense of foreboding prophecy about it when you consider the current swine flu pandemic that will turn us all into pork scratchings before the year is over.

Getting back to the topic at hand, issues with my gaming habit started to arise back at college when people started giving me free money. Obviously this cash could, logically, only be spent on one thing, and it bloody well wasnít going to be a haircut. Itís like giving a thousand pounds to a meth addict. Do you really think they are going to spend a ďreasonableĒ amount of that cash on meth and save the rest for a rainy day? Fuck no. You clearly send word to the little old lady down the street who sells drugs out of her front garage that youíre coming down and you clean her place out. Itís the same with games, but without the questionable legality of buying products from an unlicensed retailer.

For this reason Fallout 3 may just be my game of the year for 2009. Iíve been playing Bethesdaís post-apocalyptic mega RPG on and off since Christmas day last year, which for those of you who failed first grade math class, is five months or one hundred and fifty days ago. During that time Iíve managed to clock a pretty reasonable forty five hours with the game and Iíve yet to be distracted enough by the next shiny thing to give up on it.

Iíve heard people remark that they couldnít get into Fallout like they did Oblivion because of its dreary and depressing atmosphere, however this may just be why I keep going back to it. As wonderful as the mystical fantasy genre is, sometimes its good to take a step back from it and Fallout 3 is truly a rush of fresh air. From the very first time you step out of Vault 101 into the capital wasteland you are simply blown away by the sheer scale and detail of the world around you.

Sure itís barren, itís dead and youíre all alone, but thatís what makes it such a unique title. Iím not saying the games perfect by any means, but the sheer thrill of the adventure you have in this incredible world more than makes up for the little problems it has. Every corner of the wastes has its surprises and every quest has multiple ways to be approached. Just discussing the game with other players can completely take you by surprise, as everyoneís experience will be slightly unique to them, be it from the moral choices they made, to the order they did things or where they went first. I donít claim to be a gaming connoisseur who has tried the best of everything, but Iím sure I canít be wrong in saying there isnít anything quite like this in any other modern generation game.

The game starts with quite a steep learning curve about an hour in where you must quickly get to grips with exactly what items you need to carry and what should be sold or left behind. If there is one thing this game has taught me, its when scavenging a nuclear wasteland, bring a bigger bag.

Also, a single shot in the face makes peoples heads explode. Did I mention this game is hilariously gory for no good reason?

What's so incredible about my time with Fallout 3 is that as I slowly ponder through the ninety plus hour game they provided, they keep making it longer. In the past five months Bethesda has released three downloadable packs which each ads a significant amount of new game play, weapons and skills to the game, the most recent of which even went to the lengths of rewriting the ending. With two more packs due, I can see myself still playing Fallout 3 for a long time to come.

Of course, that wonít stop me buying a third copy of Peggle for no good reason. I gotta spend that drug money on somethingÖ

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